12 off-beat ways to experience Winter Park

The Heavy
The Heavy Photo by Daniela Mikheal

Winter Park has a reputation as the hoitiest, toitiest neighborhood this side of Windermere. But that doesn’t mean you can’t visit. The mix of Rollins College students and the well-to-do results in a nice variety of things to do, especially if dining is the main reason you leave your house. There are plenty of new things to check out – and plenty more just on the edge of opening, but not there yet, like an outpost of Texas-based Twisted Root Burger Co. and the long-awaited redo of Park Plaza Gardens, to be reborn as Bovine Steakhouse – but keep an eye on recent changes made by some old faves as well.

The Geek Easy

114 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, 321-972-8207, facebook.com/thegeekeasy

Well, this one's not technically new, but if you haven't stopped in in a while, you may not know that A Comic Shop – the primogenitor of the nerd culture-themed bar and music venue the Geek Easy – has moved out of the front of the space. This leaves a front room lined with ready-to-play video game consoles to pair with your craft beer. It's also become a spot to catch hip-hop shows that break out of the nerdcore mold.

Sushi Pop/Chauhaus

115 E. Lyman Ave., Winter Park, 321-203-2282, sushipoprestaurant.com

Chef Chau Trinh's edible tribute to Japanese pop culture has been giving people a reason to go to Oviedo for several years, but the new location, just off Winter Park's Park Avenue, comes with a bonus. ChauHaus, serving Vietnamese staples like pho, bun bo hue and banh mi, uses the space to serve lunch Wednesdays-Sundays.

Winter Park Square

1090 Orlando Ave., Winter Park, nordstromrack.com, sephora.com, wholefoods.com

The newest addition to the busy intersection of 17-92 and Lee Road has added a Whole Foods, a Sephora (yaaass) and a Nordstrom Rack to the retail options in Winter Park. Pay attention to the new traffic pattern, though. It can cause headaches if you're on autopilot.

The Heavy

1152 Harmon Ave., Winter Park, theheavywp.com

The former warehouse-like space that held Lombardi's Seafood got turned into a beautifully designed retail space focusing on plants and garden décor. The addition of a proper coffee bar makes it a refreshing hangout, and the event calendar is packed with pop-up dinners, workshops and clothes swaps.


91.5-FM, wprk.org

The best in basement radio and the voice of Rollins College took a looooong break starting in 2017 after its antenna was damaged by Hurricane Irma. After that, problems with renovations and protected bird species conspired to keep WPRK off the air – though still streaming online – until August 2018. But the community-minded radio station is now back on the air, though no longer in a basement, with an eclectic mix of music, talk, sports and whatever else people come up with.

Proper & Wild

155 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-543-8425, properandwildwp.com

The creators of the hip and healthy Colonialtown café Sanctum are behind this downtown Winter Park counterpart. Billing itself as Winter Park's only scratch kitchen serving vegan, vegetarian and organic food – including coffee and juice – the dishes at Proper & Wild go far beyond your microwavable Annie's burrito, but the prices are more than reasonable.

Swine & Sons

669 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-636-7601, swineandsons.com

The foodie-friendly sandwich shop has been around for a while, but they've just recently moved into new digs. After their former space near the affiliated Ravenous Pig became unavailable, Rhys and Alexia Gawlak took their Southern-inspired menu to the Local Butcher & Market, just a few weird Winter Park turns away.


430 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-0731, rei.com

The Pacific Northwest co-op opened its doors in Winter Park Village to much fanfare. The remodeled space offers up anything you could want for outdoor adventures, from bicycles to tents to hiking boots to mountain climbing equipment. It's up to you to provide the mountain, though.

The Center for Health and Wellbeing

2005 Mizell Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-2300, wellbeingnetwork.org

This new center from the Winter Park Health Foundation is planned to be a state-of-the-art healthy living center for residents of Winter Park, Maitland, Eatonville and nearby. But even if you're not interested in the services and programs they offer, the campus sounds like it'll be worth a visit, with a healthy café and a series of gardens.

The Imperial at Washburn Imports

170 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, imperialwinebar.com

The latest outpost of the Imperial offers up the exotic decor you've come to expect from the furniture importer, along with wine, craft beer and a large selection of vermouth. You can also get elevated bar snacks like warm olives, flatbreads, bao and charcuterie.

Kava Cove

2020 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 321-400-9024, kavacove.com

This tropical-themed kava bar serves up concoctions made from the kava root, a mild psychoactive agent that's used as a relaxant. Those who swear by kratom can also pick that up. Entertainment is provided by table games and frequent movie nights.

Black Bean Deli

325 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-0294, blackbeandeli.com

It hasn't happened just yet, but the Orlando Avenue location of Black Bean Deli is setting up shop in the former Winnie's Oriental Garden space near the intersection of Orange Avenue and 17-92. The Cuban cuisine purveyor should benefit from the extra elbow room, while the old space gets dedicated to catering operations.


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